Archives for the month of: September, 2011


This is an easy recipe and very tasty. The ingredients are fresh and popping with flavors. I can’t stress enough how good this was. You’ll just have to try it. The entire cooking time is just 15 minutes. We picked up most of the ingredients from the Avocado Lady down the street. The dried red chili peppers we always have in our kitchen. The jar of roasted red peppers came from the States, but you can easily find them at Pine’s or City Shop. For the granulated chicken powder, they are available at any Chinese supermarket. The brand Weimeisi (味美思) is our favorite. Happy Cooking!

1/2 package spaghetti (but you can use any pasta that you like)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 dried red chili peppers (stems cut off)
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
3 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced (jar type)
1 tablespoon granulated chicken powder (味美思鸡精)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Clean all vegetables and pat dry. Dice the tomato, thinly slice the garlic, leek (white part only) and roasted red peppers.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon granulated chicken powder and 1 teaspoon salt to the water and cook pasta until al dente.

3 minutes before the pasta is done. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saute pan on medium-high heat. Throw in the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Toss the chilies in, cook for another 10 seconds – garlic slices should be golden brown at this point. Throw in the leeks, saute until fragrant and golden. Now toss in the roasted red peppers and tomato, add a teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Cook for 30 more seconds.

Drain the pasta, it should be al dente. Add the pasta to the saute pan, toss ingredients together and salt & pepper to taste. Top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.

*Note: to make dry chilies, lay fresh chilies out on a paper towel. Let air go through them in a dry spot in your kitchen, otherwise there will be too much moisture and mold will form.

Jesse LOVES Chinese ribs, especially the ones at South Beauty on Yan’an lu, Di Shui Dong and at home. Here’s a recipe inspired by my childhood Taiwanese flavors – salty, savory fried garlic, cilantro, chillies, star anise and white pepper. It looks like a lot of garlic, but after they’re deep fried, they become sweet and nutty, not as garlicky as you think 8 cloves may be.

3 pounds pork rib (about 10 ribs)
3 tablespoons good soy sauce (Shanghainese mushroom soy is a good option)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
3 star anise
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon high-quality chicken powder (鸡精,available at any Chinese supermarket)
5 cups canola oil
Salt

Cut the rack into individual ribs. Marinade the ribs in mushroom soy and rice wine for 30 minutes.

You can either cook the ribs in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes or steam them for 1 hour then let cool.

In a deep pot, heat canola oil and fry the garlic until fragrant and golden brown. Strain the garlic and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, evenly coat the ribs in flour and shake off excess. Deep fry the ribs in batches, in the oil you fried the garlic with until crispy and golden brown. Drain ribs on a paper towel lined plate.

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon garlic oil on medium-high heat, add  chopped onions, star anise, chilies and saute until fragrant. Add the ribs, fried garlic, chicken powder, sugar, salt and white pepper. Shake the pan vigorously to coat the ribs with spices, about 2 minutes. Mix in cilantro at the end and serve.


Jesse and I saw a Chinese news report about a huge wholesale produce market open to the public. It seems the locals are going to this market since the food prices had jumped 16% in one month, due to impact of China’s worst drought in 50 years. This wholesale market supplies most of the produce to all of our local wet markets, supermarkets, restaurants and fast food outlets. The prices are a good 20-30% cheaper. This market had pretty much everything, from vegetables to meats to cookware to seasonings. We read that 150 million USD goes through there a day.


We’ve been trying to find skirt steak, from Pine’s to City Shop. “Meiyou” was their answer. So we decided to visit a real butcher. This was Jesse showing the butcher where the skirt steak was. In Chinese, it literally means 牛裙, if they’ve ever heard of it.


“Free range Plymouth Rock chickens. Incredibly tasty. 15 kuai a jin.” 1 jin = 500 grams, or 1.34 pound.


The sign reads “Unique purple skin garlic: fragrant, pungent, do not sprout and full of antibiotic properties .”

We spotted fresh mackerels at the wet market and had to pick them up for dinner. They were 6 kuai, or a dollar a piece. Pick fish with clear eyes, bright red gills and smell of the ocean. Ask your fish monger to clean out the fish cavities.
Note: mackerel is strong-flavored and oily, but when cooked right it’s very tasty. We cooked the fish whole to keep it moist and tender. If you follow the recipe, you won’t be disappointed.

2 whole Chinese mackerel, about 14″ head to tail
2 cups shelled edamame (soy beans)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch cilantro
16 cherry tomatoes
5 red chilies
2 green chilies
3 limes
3 tablespoons milk
Hawaiian Alaea salt (but you can use any coarse salt)
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F / 200° C.

Wash the fish and pat dry. Stuff fish cavities with roughly chopped onion and cilantro. Drizzle olive oil and squeeze lime over and inside the fish. Salt and pepper the fish.

Place the fish belly down on a prepared tin foil. Crunch the tin foil around the fish and form like a boat. Place 8 tomatoes, chopped chili peppers and lime wedges around each fish.

Place the boats on a baking sheet, roast in oven for 25 minutes. Squeeze the lime over the fish about three times during the roast.

In the mean time, boil edamame in a small pot of water until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain, then pour in a blender with butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, milk, a small bunch of cilantro, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

Pull out the stuffed aromatics and debone the fish. Plate with roasted tomatoes, chili peppers, edamame mash and lime wedges. Spoon liquid from the tin foil boat over the fish, squeeze with more lime and serve immediately.


This rich soup is flavorful and hearty. Our version of this Taiwanese red roasted (or braised) beef noodle soup is made of stewed beef shanks, aromatics, beef broth, vegetables and noodles. When meat is braised with soy sauce, Chinese call hong shao, or red roasted. What makes a good niu rou mian (beef noodle soup) are the tender meat with a good balance of fat and tendon, flavorful broth and the “Q” texture (toothsome) of the noodles. For variations, sometimes we will char 2 onions and simmer them in the broth for a darker, sweeter flavor or season the broth with Taiwanese shacha sauce 牛頭牌沙茶酱. This is optional, wrap 1 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns in cheese cloth and add to the broth. Jesse’s not a big fan of Sichuan peppercorns, but I like them and they give an extra savory kick, 鲜度 to the soup.

We love Taiwanese brand soy sauce and bean pastes, which can be purchased at Taiwanese grocery stores and Carrefour in Gubei. Noodles are available and made fresh daily at any local market. Here’s our favorite wet market in the French Concession: Jiashan Market at 328 Jianguo lu near Taiyuan lu (嘉善菜场, 建国西路328号近太原路). Happy Cooking!

2 pounds Australian or Shandong premium beef shank
8 scallions, plus 2 more finely chopped
1 small bunch Chinese greens (青菜,小白菜或青江菜)
2 packages fresh thick noodles (家常粗麵條)
4 ginger, 1″ thick slices
5 cloves garlic
3 red chilies
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, 4″ long
1 licorice root stick, 3″ long
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large white turnip, roughly chopped
1 piece rock sugar, about 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup good aged rice wine
1 cup  Taiwanese soy sauce (台灣金蘭醬油)
2 tablespoons fermented bean paste (台灣岡山豆瓣醬)
1 tablespoon spicy fermented bean paste (台灣岡山辣豆瓣醬)
6 cups water

Wash the Chinese greens, finely chop 2 scallions and set aside.

In a large pot, boil beef shanks for about 7 minutes, pour shanks through a strainer and discard the water. Wash shanks thoroughly.

In the same large pot, heat oil over high heat, brown the aromatics: ginger pieces, scallions, whole garlic cloves, red chilies, star anise, cinnamon stick and licorice, about 5 minutes. Then add in bean pastes and saute until your kitchen is filled with the aroma, about 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with rice wine and soy sauce. Add the beef shanks, carrot, tomatoes, turnip, rock sugar and water. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Spoon out the beef shanks and let cool. Slice, against the grain, to 1.5″ thick slices. Put the shanks back into the broth and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour or until meat is tender but not falling apart. Strain the broth, discard ginger pieces, garlic, tomato skins, carrot and turnip.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the fresh noodles until al dente. In the same pot, blanch Chinese greens for about 10 seconds and strain.

In a deep soup bowl, place cooked noodles on the bottom, ladle in beef broth, beef stock (if you want to go through the trouble: char beef bones and aromatics, slowly simmer for hours to yield an intense beef stock) and beef slices. Top with Chinese greens, chopped scallions and serve immediately.

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